Teams that have broken long championship curses in recent years have tended to do so in dramatic fashion.
When the Red Sox finally won the World Series in 2004, it was only after becoming the first MLB team to rally from a 3-0 playoff deficit, which they did after winning four straight in the ALCS over the Yankees.
When the Cavaliers delivered Cleveland its first major men’s championship in more than a half-century in 2016, they did so by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit against the greatest regular-season team in NBA history, the 73-9 Warriors.
And when the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, the also overcame a 3-1 World Series deficit — including a dramatic extra-inning victory in Cleveland in Game 7.
This could mean nothing and it could mean everything if you follow the Vikings. If you do, of course, you know the Vikings have never won a Super Bowl.
If you believe in the drama angle, it’s hard to imagine a more dramatic way to win a first Super Bowl than by becoming the first team to win one in your home stadium, as the Vikings have a chance to do in a couple of months. But if you really want to add another layer, how about this: to get there, make the Vikings defeat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
A couple weeks ago, the notion of the Packers reaching the postseason was preposterous. Even now, it’s unlikely. But still, a few things have happened recently to move the meter from impossible to improbable when it comes to the chances of these two teams meeting with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
*The Packers won back-to-back overtime games against subpar teams to get to 7-6. Even though FiveThirtyEight still gives them just a 6 percent chance of making the playoffs, the Packers could get injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers back this week for a game at Carolina.
*The Vikings lost Sunday. While they still have an 83 percent chance of getting a first-round bye (per 538), they’re now a game behind Philadelphia and trail in the tiebreaker. Getting the No. 2 seed and the second bye is the most likely scenario for Minnesota.
*The Eagles lost Carson Wentz to a torn ACL on Sunday, making the likely No. 1 seed in the NFC vulnerable.
So let’s play this out. Let’s say the Packers win at Carolina on Sunday. That would boost their playoff odds to 21 percent, while a loss would put them at less than one percent. So that step has to happen. Let’s also say the Vikings defeat the Bengals at U.S. Bank Stadium, clinching the NFC North and moving them closer to a bye.
Then let’s say the Vikings lose at Green Bay in Week 16, then beat the Bears in Week 17 to finish 12-4. There’s a good chance that will be good enough for the No. 2 seed. Now let’s give Green Bay a win at Detroit in Week 17 and sneak them into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed ahead of a team currently ahead of them like Seattle (with whom Green Bay owns a tiebreaker edge in head-to-head).
The Vikings would have a first-round bye as the No. 2 seed, with the Eagles No. 1. The Packers, as the No. 6 seed, would open on the road against the No. 3 seed — the best division winner not to get a bye. That will be a good team, for sure, but it would probably be someone like the Rams or Saints — a potentially vulnerable overachiever.
Let’s say the Packers win that game to get to the divisional round. As the lowest remaining seed, they would then play the top-seeded Eagles in Philly — but not the injured Wentz. Philadelphia is clearly the more well-rounded team and would likely still be a decided favorite in that game, but Green Bay’s chances of pulling an upset would be much greater than they would be if Wentz were healthy.
So let’s say Green Bay wins that game, and the Vikings win their playoff opener at home against the winner of the game between the lowest division winner and top wild card (which again, will be a good team and is certainly no gimme).
That would give the Vikings home field advantage in the NFC title game against the Packers, with the Super Bowl on the line. Can you even imagine the chaos?
Of course, a lot of things have to happen before then. This could all be practically moot in less than a week. But I never doubt Rodgers, and I never doubt the notion that crazy things tend to happen with the Vikings. So you never know.